The Secret to Legal Foretelling: Generic and Inter-Generic Aspects of Vagueness in Contracts, Patents and Regulations
AbstractIn this genre analysis research paper, we compare U.S. patents, contracts, and regulations on technical matters with a focus upon the relation between vagueness and communicative purposes and subpurposes of these three genres. Our main interest is the investigation of intergeneric conventions across the three genres, based on the software analysis of three corpora (one for each genre, 1 million words per corpus). The result of the investigation is that intergeneric conventions are found at the level of types of expressed linguistic vagueness, but that intergeneric conventions at the level of actual formulations are rare. The conclusion is that at this latter level the influence from the situation type underlying the individual genre is more important than the overarching legal character of the genres, when we talk about introducing explicit vagueness in the text.
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